updated 10/24/2007 2:48:21 PM ET 2007-10-24T18:48:21

Guest: Pedro Nava, Duncan Hunter, Joan Walsh, Tim Bieber, Robert Knight,

Lloyd Grove

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  That’s more than a dozen massive wildfires burning California from Santa Barbara all the way down to Mexico, is the state under-prepared because of the demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?  Also, about 50 suspected illegal immigrants have surrender on the border patrol since Sunday to escape one of the big fires.  What happens to them?

But first, a bigger evacuation than even hurricane Katrina underway now.  More than 900,000 people fleeing their homes.  This is the largest peace time movement of civilians in this country since the civil war.  More than 373 acres burned already.  The devastation hard to comprehend.  8,000 firefighters nowhere near containing the flames.  It is seen in these images taken by NASA’s Aqua satellite.  We have got a full coverage tonight.  First, NBC’s Chris Jansing is live in Valencia, just north of Los Angeles.  Chris, what’s the latest on the progress there?

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it’s a very tough day here.  It’s day three of what has been an absolutely relentless series of fires here in the North area of Los Angeles county, what’s known as Canyon country.  There are tens of thousands of people still out of their homes.  Some of them literally fleeing in the middle of the night for their lives.  Two new fires sparking last night and a third one that came late yesterday near Magic Mountain, the amusement park, it was caused we now know by nothing more than a simple spark from a welder’s torch.  It tells you how dangerous Mother Nature is right now.  The conditions have been absolutely brutal—high temperatures, low humidity and the Santa Ana winds that have been gusting very high -- 65, 70 miles per hour but what people really talk about is the fact that they’re so unpredictable, unlike anything most people have ever seen her before.

Where I am standing, there are two major fires really within distance, my seeing distance.  Ninety thousand plus acres have burned here already and firefighters are exhausted.  They say they have about half the number that they would normally have for a fire this size and that’s in spite of the fact that they are getting help from out of town.  San Francisco, Oakland, even out of state, places as far away as Oregon and North Dakota.  What they’re hoping is that there would be a diminishment of winds tomorrow is what they are expecting.  There is one more fire here in North Los Angeles county in Malibu.  I was there yesterday.  Some of these multimillion dollar homes that still only 15 percent contained.  Forty-four hundred acres burned.  Some people have been allowed back in their homes but they’re doing it at their own risk.  For example, yesterday, in one of those very tony neighborhoods, there was a piece of tumble weed that caught fire.  It ignited a spark that set off a propane tank shooting flames into the air.  It just happened that firefighters were nearby and able to put that fire down before it spread and ruined even that house, let alone spreading to others.  But it tells you just how dangerous conditions continue to be here in North Los Angeles.  Dan?

ABRAMS:  All right, Chris Jansing, thanks very much.  We’re going to be continuing to stay on that throughout the hour.  But the fire storms in California’s raising tough questions about what the National Guard is extended too much to handle emergencies at home.  Back in May, before the fire started, “The San Francisco Chronicle” reported that the California National Guard was down a billion dollars worth of equipment.  Two hundred and nine vehicles in Iraq, including 110 humvees and 63 military trucks.  According to report the California guard should have had 39 diesel generators on hand.  They say it had none.  The Kansas governor raised similar concerns earlier this year when she said the deployment of National Guard troops to Iraq hurt the emergency response to a deadly tornado in her state.  The question—is this another unanticipated cost of a prolonged and expensive war effort?

Joining us on the phone, Republican California Congressman Duncan Hunter representing San Diego.  His house actually burnt down in the October 2003 wildfires.  Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of salon.com who was raced in San Francisco and Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava , he represents the Santa Barbara are.  Thanks to all of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  Alright, Congressman Hunter, first before I ask about the issues of the National Guard, are you and your family safe?

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, [R] CALIFORNIA:  Yes, we’re safe and we’re some of those people who moved out of our canyon.  In fact, we rebuilt, we’ve just finished rebuilding from the 2003 fire and the good news was we finished rebuilding, we were given the final permit to move in.  The bad news is they said we couldn’t do it because we got a new fire coming.  But, you know, we’ve got all of the military assets, all the guard assets in the country that are airborne-based, such as C-130’s coming in from Colorado, from Wyoming and from North Carolina.  They just landed at Point Mugu.  A couple hundred miles above San Diego where they had hit the L.A. County Fires and San Diego Fires.  That’s good news for they should be in the air early tomorrow morning.

ABRAMS:  What do you make of this Representative Hunter?  I mean, the idea that you have Barbara Boxer now and others coming out and saying look, there is no question that the war in Iraq is straining our ability to handle natural disasters like this one?

HUNTER:  Listen, this is a big stretch and I can tell you I’ve been chairman of the Armed Services Committee for the last four years.  We got 2.5 million people under arms.  We got less than 8 percent of those people in the war fighting theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan and when you get the hot winds coming off the desert, these reverse winds, because what keeps things stable in California are the winds coming off the ocean, which keep us cool, which keep the fire dangers down.  You get the hot winds reversing danger, you get a 60 mile an hour wind hitting tender dry sage brush, you can put the entire U.S. Army in front of it and you are not going to stop it and the proof of that is this.  We’ve got thousands of U.S. Marines right now at Camp Hamilton available to fight fires where we can use them here in San Diego county.  But you simply don’t throw a wall of bodies up against an incoming wall of flame that is coming with high winds behind it. 

What you need to do is get into the air war.  That is -

ABRAMS:  Yes, but, the—but -

HUNTER:  The platforms up in the air what we got right now is high wind.

ABRAMS:  My only concern about that, let me go to a semi-Nava on this is that one of the first things that happened, according to the major general in charge of the California National Guard, was they had to pull soldiers and airmen off of the border, and bring them to this area.  Which is makes a lot of sense, but it does seem to me that that means that there weren’t enough people on hand to deal with the issue?

HUNTER:  Well, listen -

ABRAMS:  Let me ask Assemblyman  Nava about that.

ASSEMBLYMAN PEDRO NAVA, (D) SANTA BARBARA:  My answer is—I’m the chairman of the Joint Committee on Emergency Services and Homeland Security for the California legislature and we’ve conducted hearings, talking with the National Guard, the Office of Emergency Services and first responders all up and down the state and I can tell you without fear of being contradicted that our Army National Guard does not have all of the resources that it needs and that’s in part due to the 50 percent rule that’s imposed by the Federal government and the Department of the Army and let me tell you how it works.  You take the total number of people that you have in your National Guard, figure out the funding and then you cut it in half.  That means 50 percent fewer materials, equipment, and opportunities to train.  Do we need some help?  Absolutely.  Should the Federal government step up to the plate and fix this problem?  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Representative Hunter, go ahead.  (INAUDIBLE)

HUNTER:  Let me give a fast rebuttal for that as a guy who is overseen

the National Guard for a lot of years.  You don’t stop a wall of flame by

handling out more M-16s, more uniforms, having more people in the infantry

-

ABRAMS:  So why are they bringing people up from the border then Representative Hunter?

HUNTER:  In fact, I got those people at the border Mr. Nava and I got them down there building the border fence.  There’s nothing wrong with having people taking a break from building the border fence to help and fight this particular wild fire.  But stacking people and equipment up against this fire, unless you do it in a very strategic way, does not bring the fire danger down.  We’ve got a ton of people in San Diego County in the U.S. Marines, the first Marine Division stationed here that we could use if it would put the fire out and it doesn’t put the fire out and I’ve just got a call from a contractor in Santa Barbara County who has a lot of bulldozers, who is a fire contractor who is not being called into the fire works right now because the people that are running the fire for California think they’ve got plenty.

ABRAMS:  Let me bring in Joan Walsh.  Joan, what do you make of this?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Well, I hope we have everything we need and everybody in the country tonight is helping in praying that people in Southern California are safe.  But it goes without saying that we’re weaker because of the people who have been taken from the guard and sent overseas.  But more importantly that “San Francisco Chronicle” article that you referenced it said that we were missing roughly half of our equipment and even the governor, I think it’s important to think about what people say not in times of crisis but in times of calm.  And in that very story, the governor - Governor Schwarzenegger said, “Look, we’re concerned because they seem to be taking our material away to Iraq and not bringing it back.”  So, there clearly is a problem.

ABRAMS:  Assemblyman Nava, specifically, what do you need that you don’t have?

NAVA:   Well, I think part of the problem is equipment and part of it is the opportunity to train.  We’re going to be OK in the short term and we’re going to be OK because we have cooperative agreements with neighboring states.  But, that doesn’t answer the question, the 50 percent rule, why are we not getting full funding for the things that we need and the other part of that is, that’s we’re doing OK for now but if we have more fires—we have 16 fires right now.  At some point, firefighters will be fatigued.  Are all the people that they’re talking about bringing forward trained to fight fires?  We don’t want to lose people in fires who don’t have training.

ABRAMS:  And that’s the point that Representative Hunter is saying.  But anyway, thank you very much.  Appreciate it.  Congressman Hunter, stay safe.  Thank you very much for taking the time.  Assemblyman Nava, I know that many of your people are immensely affected by this as well.  Good luck to you.  Joan Walsh is going to stay with us.  We’re going to stay on top of the latest on the fires throughout this hour.

Up next: Somehow the State Department reportedly lost track of $1.2 billion -- 1.2 billion that was supposed to be used to train police in Iraq.  How do you lose track of $1.2 billion?

And apparently Glenn Beck over at CNN has no sympathy for some of those losing their homes because, he says, they hate America.  Yes, really.  That’s coming up in Beat the Press.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  You are looking at live pictures which we are getting in and out.  We’re having a lot of trouble with the reception because of the enormous winds going on there but this is a live picture of Southern California.  The fires continue to rage there.  Throughout the hour we’re keeping an eye on the wild fires.  Six have reportedly died in San Diego, one person while trying to save their home, others died from burn injuries.  They’re being evacuated as many as 10,000 sleeping at San Diego Charges football stadium.  We will be all over that throughout the hour.

Moving on: A scathing report today says contractors in Iraq are not only making their own rules of engagement, but they’re also wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.  The State Department was commissioned to report can’t seem to do much about it because they have no idea what really happened to over a billion, yes, billion dollars of taxpayer money.  Here is NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

(PLAY VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice over):  Fifty thousand hired guns in Iraq like Blackwater with little accountability.  This according to the State Department’s own investigators—private armies answering to no one not the State Department, the Pentagon or Iraq’s government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think the state department has been so over overwhelmed with the other problems in Iraq that they have taken the private contractor and kind of let them lose.

MITCHELL: The State Department’s own investigation today criticizes the department for poor communication, lack of accountability and oversight.  The chief recommendation, contractors should follow the military’s rules on the use of deadly force that might have avoided deadly incidents like the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians last month by Blackwater guard.  An attack the FBI is still investigating.  Another big issue alleged waste and fraud.  In a second scathing report today, a Federal Audit says the State Department does not know how one of its contractors DynCorp spent more than a billion dollars training Iraq Iraqi police.

STUART BOWEN, SPECIAL INSPECTOR GEN., IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION:  Only one or two persons were assigned to manage a billion dollar program.  That was clearly inadequate staffing.

MITCHELL:  Tonight the company told NBC NEWS mistakes in a program like this are relatively view.

(on camera):  And tonight, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered tight per rules for the use of force, better coordination with the military and more training for contractors.

(voice over):  But in hearings over the next two days, she will face an angry Congress.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN, HOUSE GOV’T REFORM CHAIRMAN:  Now they say well, we’re stuck with these private military.  Well, we’re stuck with where we are because we didn’t do the things we should have done.

MITCHELL:  And now neither the military nor the State Department has had the manpower to stay in Iraq without the private armies.  Even though they have become a law unto themselves.  Andrea Mitchell, NBC NEWS, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  I get a lot of this, I don’t understand how you can lose track of $1.2 billion.  Joining me now, Amanda Carpenters comes from Townhall.com and Joan, she’s still with us from the Salon.  Alright, Joan, I didn’t understand this.  I mean, how big a deal is it - I mean it’s enormous deal that you lose $1.2 billion.  Can you blame the State Department, can you blame the administration, does this reflect more broadly on the war?

WALSH:  A lot of money, a lot of blame to go around, Dan.  Yes, it reflects very broadly on the war because what you have is the Bush administration has figured out that it needed to outsource much of this war.  You know, we’ve got 180,000 contractors in Iraq right now, more than the 150,000 troops.  Now, only 48,000 of them carry guns.  But still, that is a private army that does not report or follow any of the same rules as the military and it’s completely out of control.  This contract was to train the police.  Can you imagine anything more crucial for the future of Iraq than this contract?

ABRAMS:  Amanda, here’s the problem.  The president yesterday asked for $46 billion more for the war.  That brings the fiscal total to date $196.4 billion.  Is it fair for people to be skeptical when you find out that $1.2 billion the State Department says it can’t really account for?

AMANDA CARPENTER, TOWNHALL.COM:  Sure, I mean, Secretary Rice should be applauded a bit because she’s the one that ordered this audit and found about this wasteful spending.  So clearly, she’s trying to exercise an oversight about this.  But you know, to make an argument that we shouldn’t use contractors, so we shouldn’t - we can’t find this money I think would be wrong because of the critical role that they play helping our troops.

ABRAMS:  Should we stay we can’t use the State Department, then?  I mean, they’re the ones who are supposed to be accounting for the $1.2 billion.

CARPENTERS:  Well, I mean, I’m willing—I mean, it’s bad.  They’ve

got to find it.  You know, places like this Dyncorp saying they are going

to go through their invoices you know -

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Right, someone is, you know what, Johnny, I found it!  Remember that file you told me to look at, hey, I found out where the $1.2 billion is.

CARPENTER:  Yes, but I mean, this shouldn’t be overlooked, the critical role that private contractors play in the war this Iraq.  These are people that willingly go back to assist the State Department.  They’re not the long-ranging trigger-happy army.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  Some of them are, Amanda, some of them are.

CARPENTER:  And I think that is a terrible mischaracterization.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  And I have said that before.  I think that the vast majority of the private contractors who are there are heroic.  That’s really not the point to me.  The point is that there’s no oversight.  That’s the government’s obligation.

CARPENTER:  Well, Congress should exercise the oversight with that.  There’s been a bill that’s been moved to put them under military jurisdiction it overwhelmingly passed the House.  So, you know, we’re talking about, you know, they need some oversight.  Well, Congress should exercise it.

ABRAMS:  So, somehow the State Department’s inability to have accounting is Congress’s fault.

CARPENTER:  The State Department doesn’t make the laws, Congress does.

ABRAMS:  Right.

WALSH:  Come on, Condi Rice could change this in a heart beat.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I’ve got to wrap it up.  Final ten seconds, Joan.

WALSH:  No, I’m not saying that, Robert Gates wants them to come under Pentagon control as well.  I mean, it’s just out of control and people are getting rich and that’s the bottom line.

ABRAMS:  Amanda Carpenter and Joan Walsh, thanks a lot, appreciate it. 

I think this you’re going to stay with us.

Coming up: An eight-year-old boy calls 911 from a car because he thinks his mom is driving drunk with he and his little sister in the car.  It’s unbelievable.  The mother was in court today charged with DWI and assault for allegedly biting her son to get him to hang up on the 911 dispatch.  Plus, Larry King gets the big exclusive last night and repeatedly gets his guest name wrong again and again.  It is ugly.  It’s up next in Beat the Press.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It’s time for tonight’s Beat the Press. First up, HEADLINE NEWS’ Glenn Beck showing us why some radio talk show host should never, ever cover the news.  Apparently, he doesn’t know the difference between a right winning rant and sensitivity to the hundreds of thousands forced to evacuate their homes in Southern California for more than 17,000 homes that been destroyed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, HOST:  Can we do a fund-raiser for the Hollywood, Malibu crowd tomorrow.  I am so concerned that they’re losing their houses.  Such to be them.  I think there is a handful of people who hate America.  Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I mean, even for Beck, that cross the line.  He claims his program is a fusion of entertainment and enlightenment.  That must be his idea of entertainment because he enlightened us only about his ignorance.

Next up, Larry King having troubled with the name of his big exclusive interview last night out of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.  Plame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE:  We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Valery Flame Wilson—Valerie Flame Wilson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I make mistakes all the time so one time is hardly cause for ridicule but it was not the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING:  Spend quite a bit of time with Valery Flame Wilson.  We have got the flames in one area and a flaming woman in another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Nice way to hook it together there, Larry.  Finally, there is no tougher assignment than covering wildfires up close that is unless you are covering the story from in front of your own home.  This is unbelievable.  While still in flames, KFNB reporter Larry Hemill did just that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY HEMILL, KFNB:  On a any given day I would say welcome to my home.  This is what is left of my home just outside the forest ranch area.  Fire crews fought to save every house on the hill.  At least took a shot at it and were nice enough to let us up here.  We’re been here about 25 years.  Out here when there was nothing.  We cleared the brush, we did what we could.  This was a living hell coming over the hill.  This is what I come home to today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I salute Larry for what must have been the hardest story for him to cover.  We wish him and his family well.  We need your help in Beat the Press.  If you see anything amusing, absurd, right or wrong in the press, go to our website - Abrams.msnbc.com.  Leave us a tip in the box, please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next: An eight-year-old boy busts his mom for allegedly driving drunk.  He called 911 while they are in the car.  Mom hangs up on the dispatcher, then supposedly bites the boy for calling.  His sister was in the car.  She was in court today without her kids.  And Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outs one of the main characters.  Albus Dumbledore and it is not sitting well with some on the radical right.  Are they really, really upset about this?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Back now with the latest on those massive California wildfires.  At this moment, more people are out of their homes; more than 900,000 under evacuation orders than we saw during hurricane Katrina.  We now know at least 1700 homes have been destroyed, at least four dead, 8,000 plus firefighters putting everything on the line to try to help stop more than a dozen fires. 

NBC’s Stephanie Stanton is in Poway, California, a suburb of the San Diego, where she stands on the ashes on a burned out million-dollar home.  Chris Jansing is in Valencia, California, where planes have dropped fire retardant over thousands of acres of flames throughout the day.  And George Lewis is at Qualcomm stadium, home of the Chargers in San Diego, where at least 10,000 people are now living, forced from their homes.  Before we check in with them, first a look at the almost unbelievable images and sounds from today.  The fires of this moment still ripping through the San Diego valley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Everything is burned around it.  All the trees are burned.  All the trees are burned.  The shed burned down.  It’s time to go.  Just get in the car and let’s get out of here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Shock and awe.  You see something that - it reminds me of a movie or reminds me of a bomb.  It looks like a bomb went off here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE FIRE FIGHTER:  Nothing like this.  No.  Never.  It is unbelievable.  Unbelievable. 

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA (voice over):  I proclaim a state of emergency in seven counties.  And fire officials are using whatever resources they need in order to put out those fires. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  There is nothing that can be done to save this home.  The winds are swirling and there is home on the hill you can just see through the smoke.  That could be next. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  It’s very hot, very intense. 

Very dangerous. 

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  This has been nothing short of an onslaught.  They had new fires popping up overnight.  I can show you the headlines of a local paper, “Hell on Earth,” and that’s exactly what it feels like around here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Our containment levels right now are really low. 

We’ve just been in kind of a run-in battle with these because the winds

just are not letting up

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  Tom, why did you stay in there when they said there was going to be problems? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I’ve lived in this county and around these hills my whole life and I built the house, took me five years.  I built it myself, nail by nail. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER (voice over):  But you know what?  Not much is left of this home.  We are trying to take a look around.  My photographer, Spencer, and I are looking and trying to see what we could.  And basically, this is like a washer and drier right here, maybe what was left of a laundry room. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The garage, obviously, was right here.  And there was a fireplace.  That was our living room in that area. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Chimney over there? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And the chimney over there.  And the kitchen was in the back of the house and it was a two-story home. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over):  This fire, as the Fire Chief Freeman reminded you is zero percent contained, which means we are at the mercy of the wind at this moment. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Let’s go right to our reporters in the fire zone, starting with Stephanie Stanton in Poway, a San Diego suburb.  Stephanie? 

STEPHANIE STANTON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, Dan.  Well, I am here in what is was once a million dollar home.  It’s really hard to believe.  Check out these pictures.  You can see the chimney, you can see just burned out rubble.  The fire ripped through here, taking this home with it, and this is all that is left.  You can see some kitchen chairs back there. 

You know, we talked to the homeowners here and they say that they have lived here for five years.  They said that they had just done some upgrading on the house and they were basically able to escape with their dogs, a few photos and just a few items. 

And you know, this scene is being repeated over and over again, especially here in San Diego County.  More than 1200 people evacuated here in San Diego County.  And you know, we have been kind of going through the rubble here trying to find some things just to give you an example of what is left. 

I notice this shovel, and it must have had a wooden handle because this is all that is left, just the metal.  Just very devastating situation here, Dan.  You know, when we were driving up, it’s so eerie because all the streets are empty.  And no one is here.  It’s just a very eerie feeling.  Now we want to go to Chris Jansing for the latest in Valencia.. 

JANSING:  Thanks very much, Stephanie.  Of course, these fires have already consumed an area equal to New York City, but there is some good news as the sun has set here in the north part of Los Angeles County where I am in Canyon County because the temperature has cooled.  Those terrible Santa Ana winds that have plagued firefighters all day have died down.  And that means they may get a bit of a respite.

But we talk to the command center.  They are not letting down their guard.  They say all the evacuations remain in place.  Tens of thousands of people remain out of their homes.  And hundreds of people are still threatened by the fires that seem to pop up out of nowhere, when just an ember gets caught by one of the winds and can spark any place. 

So they’re saying they’re are still on a high alert.  And they, in fact, say that there are 38 miles of fire line that they are defending on just one of these four fires in this part of southern California alone.  So they think containment is probably days away.  Now I want to send it to George Lewis, my colleague who is in San Diego. 

GEORGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Dan, some surprising statistics tonight.  The Associated Press is estimating that 910,000 people in California have been evacuated from their homes.  That would be the largest movement of civilians in this country since the civil war. 

Half a million acres scorched here in San Diego.  Five people have died as a result of the fire, mostly elderly residents evacuated from their homes who could not take the strain.  Firefighters say the problem continues to be the dry weather, the dry, windy Santa Ana conditions that are causing more fires to pop up even as they try to put down the existing fires. 

So, the battle is far from over.  Although the authorities here in San Diego say that some of people who are here at Qualcomm stadium, the main evacuation center, may get to go back to their homes in previously burned areas tomorrow.  But they are worried about the fires burning into new areas.  So the battle continues this evening.  Dan? 

ABRAMS:  George, thanks very much.  Stephanie Stanton and Chris Jansing, thanks to you as well.  A boy called 911 from a car to report his own mother may be driving drunk.  This while his mother is apparently striking, even biting him, trying to take the phone away.  The boy is eight.  His sister, also in the car, in the car is five.  This is what happens the first time - the first time he calls 911. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BOY:  I don’t know where we are.  I think we are at a public, not public, but a truck stop or a business, but I don’t know where we are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  OK, is your mom able to talk to me?

BOY:  No, I think she would hang up on you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  No, I think she would hang up on you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  OK, why do you think that?

BOY:  We were at a restaurant and she had some drinks.  I don’t  if (UNINTELLIGIBLE) she’s on something?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  OK, is she in the car with you right now?

BOY:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  OK.  Is she awake?

BOY:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  OK.  Just stay on the phone, OK? 

Do you see a business around you?

BOY:  No, I think - we’re driving down a road.  She’s yelling at me telling me to give you - to give the phone to you - give her the phone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  OK, let me talk to her.

BOY:  Here she is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It doesn’t stop there.  The boy takes the phone back, calls 911 again.  We’ll play that in a minute.  First the Sergeant Tim Bieber(ph) of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department at Vancouver, Washington joins us where this occurred.  Thanks a lot, Sergeant, for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  This is an unbelievable story.  Did the 911 operator actually believe the young boy? 

SERGEANT TIM BIEBER, CLARK COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT (on the phone): 

Yes.  I haven’t talked to her directly, but it’s not uncommon for 911 operators to take calls like this where parents are doing things that are out of the ordinary and the children are the people who call.  So they are trained to deal with these situations on a day-to-day basis. 

ABRAMS:  But calling while driving in a car, while she’s supposedly driving drunk.  I’ve got to assume that has never happened before. 

BIEBER:  Right, right.  In my 15 years I have not heard of a child calling their own parent in, as they’re driving drunk down the road.  We’ve had medical calls in the past but never did - I’ve seen any type of DUI type situation.  This is obviously the first time I have seen it. 

ABRAMS::  Here’s another piece of sound from the second 911 call. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BOY:  She knows I’m on the phone and she’s jabbing me telling me to give her - I don’t know what to do right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  OK, well is there anyway that you can find out where you are?

BOY:  I don’t know.  She’s jabbing me now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  Jabbing you with what?

BOY:  With her hand.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Wow.  Sergeant, have these children been taken away from this mother? 

BIEBER:  Right now, the mother is still in custody in the Clark County jail.  We - the night of that incident, they were given to another family member.  Child Protective Services will obviously be involved.  My understanding today is they are back with their father.  I’m not sure on their status as of this evening.  But there is - the proceedings are in place for CPS to follow up with this case. 

ABRAMS:  Here is the final piece of the 911 call that the eight-year-old made. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BOY:  But, I don’t want to give you the phone because she will totally hang up on you.  I know she will.  I know she will.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  Why?

BOY:  Because I don’t know what’s going on with her.  She (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at the restaurant.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don’t think she knows what’s going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  OK.  Well, do you have any idea where you are?

BOY:  No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  OK, are you driving in a car right now?

BOY:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 911 DISPATCHER:  How old are you?

BOY:  I’m 8-year-old, and my sister’s 5-year-old and she’s in the car with me.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Sergeant, how are these sweet children doing? 

BIEBER:  My understanding is they are doing all right now.  Obviously the night of the incident, the deputies had arrived on scene.  They’re very upset, very upset over what occurred.

Actually, when the mother pulled into a fire station for an unknown reason and when she pulled in there, the kids got out of the car, ran into the fire station in just their socks. And this is a rainy, cold evening when this occurred.  And one of the fire station firefighters helped them in there and then left the mom outside until our deputies arrived about a minute later and contacted the mother. 

Also, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but the mother did bite the child, trying to get the phone away from him during are the struggle as she is driving on the freeway.  So she has been charged with assaulting the child, two counts of reckless endangerment and also DUI. 

ABRAMS:  Sergeant Bieber, an awful story.  Thank you very much for taking the time.  Appreciate it.

BIEBER:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Up next, Harry Potter facing one of his toughest opponents ever.  Conservative Muggles outraged after author J.K. Rowling revealed that one of her characters, Professor Dumbledore, is gay.  Can Harry’s mentor survive against he who must not be named, a.k.a. the radicals on the right? 

Plus, another magician’s love life exposed.  The new report says the FBI has uncovered David Copperfield’s biggest trick yet - how he tricks women into joining him backstage at his shows.  That’s ahead in tonight’s “Winners and Losers.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Did you know the Harry Potter web site lists Professor Dumbledore’s passions as literature, alchemy, and thick woolen socks?  Apparently, even they don’t know about his secret love life.  Up next, J.K.  Rowling announces that one of most popular characters in the Harry Potter series is gay.  That has right wingers complaining that some how this disclosure about the fictional character is bad for America. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Welcome back.  The fires continuing in southern California throughout the hour.  We are keeping an eye on that situation there, and we’ll certainly keep you updated on the wildfires burning there.  Authorities evacuating Lake Arrowhead and all the communities surrounding the mountain resort.  Flames have destroyed more than 400 homes, threatening 10,000 others. 

Now to a controversy burning in the magical world of Harry Potter.  Fans come into grips with a startling new reality.  The author J.K. Rowling outing this man, Albus Dumbledore, the fatherly the headmaster who taught Harry Potter’s tricks.  Potter web site buzzing fans wondering what does it mean? 

The revelation that Dumbledore is gay is not sitting well with everyone.  Some conservative commentators blasting Rowling, claiming she is inserting her agenda into had a perfectly good story and forcing parents to talk to their kids about a gay Dumbledore. 

Put the earmuffs on the kids because here to talk about it is Robert Knight, the director of the Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute, and Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of “Salon.com.”  Thanks to both of you.  All right.  So, Mr. Knight, this is a big deal and bad for America? 

ROBERT KNIGHT, DIRECTOR OF THE CULTURE AND MEDIA INSTITUTE, MEDIA

RESEARCH CENTER:  Well, I think it is bad for kids because they see Dumbledore as a moral authority, as have very grandfatherly figure, someone that they look up to.  And then here is J.K. Rowling after she’s made her $450 million, announcing that he is gay, gratuitously. 

You know, it’s not good for kids because it forces the subject of homosexuality into an area where a lot of parents aren’t comfortable with.  The reason she waited until now is she already made her millions with her books.  You notice she didn’t do it in the outset. 

ABRAMS:  But -

KNIGHT:  And that there is a good reason for that.  Most parents don’t want this. 

ABRAMS:  I assume most parents don’t want to take to kids about sex either and relationships between young people, and yet, that is in the books as well. 

KNIGHT:  I didn’t say everything in the book is wholesome and wonderful.  After all, it’s about witchcraft.

ABRAMS:  What I’m saying - you’re saying that J.K. Rowling is forcing parents to talk about something they don’t want to talk about, as if this is some great American horror. 

KNIGHT:  I think you are exaggerating, Dan.  All we are saying is it’s

probably not good for kids, and it seems gratuitous.  I think game plan

here is to inject homosexuality into kids’ books, school curricula, every

possible part of the conversation -

ABRAMS:  So she’s part of the vast left-wing conspiracy that is looking to insert the gay agenda as opposed to the possibility that maybe when she was writing the book in her own head, she thought he was gay.

KNIGHT:  The game plan is to inject homosexuality into everything and

if somebody says well maybe that is not a good idea then you are called

prejudicial, bigoted, made fun of.  You know, this whole idea that

everybody has to accept it or they will be branded as someone -

ABRAMS:  But this is -

KNIGHT:  Prejudice is -

ABRAMS:  I don’t really think -

KNIGHT:  You can see it unfolding, and it is ridiculous. 

ABRAMS:  Joan, go ahead. 

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, “SALON.COM”:  You know, Dan, she did not announce this.  She did not make a big deal out of it.  She was in a question and answer session with her fans, and a young woman asked a question about whether Dumbledore ever found love, and she revealed it.  It was actually kind of moving, if you saw it directly. 

This is not a publicity stunt.  She will still make millions from these books, and perhaps parents like Robert will not be buying the books anymore, so she still has something at risk. 

(CROSS TALK)

ABRAMS:  Robert, there is rumors as well about Peppermint Patty, C3PO, Bugs Bunny, Bert and Ernie.  Are these others that you are concerned about? 

KNIGHT:  Dan, here is the problem.  Homosexuality is being injected into everything.  And then if somebody says maybe that is not such a good idea, there is this incredible campaign to say, “Oh, you are a bigot. 

You’re prejudiced.”  You’re trying to silence people who might have a

problem with it -

ABRAMS:  Are you angry that Ernie and Bert live in the same room? 

KNIGHT:  Who think it’s wrong for two men to have sex together. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Does it bother you that Ernie and Bert live together?  I’m kidding around a little bit.  I mean, come on, I’m having a little bit of fun.

KNIGHT:  Yes, you are.  And the whole idea is to ridicule people who

have an honest objection to this kind of -

(CROSS TALK)

ABRAMS:  Well, it is kind of, but you know what?  She writes books. 

WALSH:  It’s her novel. 

ABRAMS:  It’s her position that he’s gay.  So what? 

KNIGHT:  It may not mean much to you, but to have sexually confused boys look at this and say, “Gee, maybe I should try it, because after all this authority figure is into it. 

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

KNIGHT:  You’re are not going to be around, Dan, when they come down with STDs and have all sorts of emotional (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  This is not a happy lifestyle. 

ABRAMS:  But at least they won’t have to have abortions, right? 

KNIGHT:  The problem is you are pushing something - you’re making fun of parents’ genuine concerns and I think that’s wrong. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Robert Knight and Joan Walsh.  Thanks. 

KNIGHT:  Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Poor Dumbledore.  Up next, more hocus pocus.  Will tonight’s big winner or loser be a man who magically levitated in front of the White House?  Stupid crooks who were caught, thanks to the magic of television?  Or illusionist David Cooperfield whose secret tricks to pick up woman at his shows has now reportedly been revealed.  We’ll look at it may presto change-o his reputation, and possibly affect the investigation.  Next in a magical edition of “Winners and Losers.” 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It’s time for tonight’s “Winners and Losers” for this 23rd day of October, 2007.  Our first loser, a Barcelona bully who left a fellow subway rider bruised and beaten.  The brazen attack caught by surveillance cameras as the man slapped, groped and kicked a girl in the face. 

What set him off?  Apparently, he figured she was an immigrant.  Police identified the attacker and arrested him.  The breathtaking beat down apparently left the woman scared to even leave her home. 

Our first winner, Marie Osmond who lost her breath and fainted after a “Dancing with the Stars” routine. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CONTEST JUDGE:  Of course you have to show the gaiety and the fun of the samba.  Oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE HOST OF “DANCING WITH THE STARS”:  All right, we are going to take a commercial break.  We will be right back - and we will be right back after this.

ABRAMS (voice over):  Osmond recovered from the swooning spell backstage and then came back. 

MARIE OSMOND, CONTESTANT, “DANCING WITH THE STARS”:  Once in a while, that happens to me when I get winded and I stop breathing.  I’m so sorry.  You know, I guess he is right, I am Sleeping Beauty, huh? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Our second loser?  Dutch magician,

Ramana, who appeared to be levitating about three feet off the ground in Washington, clutching only a yardstick.  The mystical marvel refused to give up the secret behind his trick, floating on air, right in front of the White House. 

Our second winner, White House hopeful Mike Huckabee, floating on air after snagging the political season’s most coveted endorsement.  That’s right, Walker Texas Ranger Chuck Norris announced he is throwing his support behind Huckabee. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  I’m going to cut your face. 

CHUCK NORRIS, ACTOR:  Stop talking and do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The Kung Fu master also happens to be a devout evangelical and compares the former Arkansas governor to the bible’s King David. 

But big winner of the day?  An Alabama TV news crew who helped catch a couple are of crooks right outside their studio.  The dense duo were breaking into an air conditioning unit to steal its copper, just feet away from the news crew’s rolling camera.  The copper crooks tried to run and hide after being spotted, but cops busted one of them.  He was booked, trying to steal copper in a field.  The big loser of the day? 

ABRAMS:  David Cooperfield.  Already in hiding in the wake of rape allegations against him, now the magician’s secrets revealed, now a different type of sleight of hand.  Sources tell “TMZ.com” Copperfield’s show was designed around a system for picking up women.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID COPPERFIELD, MAGICIAN:  I do a piece in the show which is in the dream category where it’s myself and two girls.  And it’s a little bit of a romantic situation.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

He allegedly identified the girls he liked in the crowd.  They were picked for a trick during a show and then taken back stage.  Here now Lloyd Grove, a columnist for “Portofolio.com.”  Lloyd, what do you make of this? 

LLOYD GROVE, COLUMNIST, “PORTOFOLIO.COM”:  Pick a card.  Come on. 

Come on.

ABRAMS:  What do you make of it? 

GROVE:  Well, thanks.  I think that it’s kind of thin.  You know, who knows what was going on because the FBI has not said anything officially.  They won’t comment.  All of this is from sources.  

ABRAMS:  Is this relevant?  I mean the bottom line is there is a rape investigation here, right?  And now we are talking about how David Copperfield supposedly picks up women at shows.  

GROVE:  Well, if you can’t use your show to pick up women, what good is it?  I mean the guy makes $60 million a year.  He’s relatively good looking.  I’ve seen him at parties all the time in New York.  He always has a model on his arm.  I don’t think he has trouble picking up women.  

ABRAMS:  And you think authorities might try and use this against him? 

GROVE:  Well, using the show to pick up women against him?  Yes, it’s shocking.  

ABRAMS:  Is this what all magicians do?  I mean, is this the “magician game?”

GROVE:  Well, usually yes, they take them back and saw them in half in a manner of speaking.  But, you know, so far I don’t see anything that looks serious or substantive.  I think this is the first time we are talking about David Copperfield in years.  So I guess that might be good for him so he might be a winner that sense.  

ABRAMS:  He survives this, do you think? 

GROVE:  Well, so far he survives it and continues pocketing his $60 million a year, yes.  And all the girls he wants.

ABRAMS:  Lloyd, I’m sorry I didn’t take one of the cards.  We didn’t have a lot of time.

GROVE:  I’m sorry to just have shocked you like that.

ABRAMS:  You did, you surprised me.  Lloyd, good to see you.  Thanks (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  I appreciate it. 

GROVE:  Good to see you.

ABRAMS:  That’s all the time we have for tonight.  Up next, stay tuned for another new episode of “LOCKUP: SAN QUENTIN, EXTENDED STAY.”  I’ll see you tomorrow.

Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user’s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.’s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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